Gain Valuable Ceiling Space by Removing Your Soffit
by Terence Jochum
When searching for their ideal home, I find that many buyers seek high ceilings and make it one of their secondary or even primary search criteria. This is understandable. After all, high ceilings provide the illusion of a larger space versus a room with the same square feet but with lower ceilings. And let’s face it, high ceilings give us a “living large” feeling when spending time in that space. But many homes with vaulted ceilings or higher flat roof ceilings come with a higher purchase price. Since they cost more to build it only makes sense that the cost per square foot would be higher too.
While there are a variety of homes with a mix of lower or higher ceiling heights, there are some homes built in the late 1970s that may have a partial high ceiling but chose to use a horizontal soffit to house the HVAC system duct work. Building homes with high ceilings during this period was not a priority to builders of non-custom and even custom homes. I bought one of these homes and it was quickly obvious to me that the soffit in the main living area of my home did not serve a structural purpose. Instead it only housed air duct. I verified this when I climbed on the roof to peek in the access area and found my truss to be a scissors truss, which is designed to be self-supporting across a large area.
My speculation was further tested by cutting a hole in part of the inside soffit to have a look. Indeed I was right. In my case, because the air duct was housed in the soffit and there was plenty of room up in the ceiling rafters of the truss design, I knew I could take the soffit out and relocate the air duct above the ceiling. This was going to give me several benefits:
1. Higher ceilings in much of my main living space.
2. Reduction of duct work air noise inside the soffit coming from the air handler, which was literally two feet above my head in the entry way and much of the living space.
3. A place to add a chandelier or light fixture in the entryway giving my entry way a feeling of grandness.
4. Ability to add more ceiling can lights (in my case LED lights) to provide more light to the room.
In order to really see what a drastic difference this made, I have provided before and after shots of the same space and a couple during construction to illustrate the area that changed. I did much of this work myself but also hired a very competent handyman to help. In the end, what I paid to have this done versus the value it added was well worth it and I now have a very nice space to dwell in.
With the appropriate inspection from a licensed contractor, making this modification can be verified and become a bonus if you have the willingness and patience to take on a project like this!
For more information on this, or other projects, I would love to help. Call or email me anytime!